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topOur spring board meeting at the end of April at Chena Hot Springs near Fairbanks was a success. We started the weekend with a full house for our Meet the Author event with Bob Armstrong for the Guide to the Birds of Alaska. Our new board members Jerome McCluskey and Evie Witten had a chance to meet with everyone, and we found out just how much hard work, from Tongass to Arctic Ocean and Arctic Refuge, really goes on in our office. Special thanks go to our office manager Heidi DeCoeur for arranging all the logistics and herding all of us wandering albatrosses throughout the weekend. It also helped that the sunny Interior weather made birding a treat-most notable were the Hammond's Flycatchers everywhere!

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Map by Ben Sullender
Each spring, birds from your local flyway head north, some flying as far as the Arctic Refuge. David Sibley, the well-known author, artist, and ornithologist, makes a great case for permanent protection of the Arctic Refuge in this new video.
The Coastal Plain is the heart of the Arctic Refuge for wildlife. These broad coastal wetlands host 125 species of birds, as well as polar bears, musk oxen, wolves, and the 197,000-animal Porcupine caribou herd during the calving season.
Audubon Alaska has selected five "posterbirds" that migrate from across the country to gather in the incredibly rich nesting grounds of the Arctic Refuge. Which birds show up in your flyway? You'll find fun facts about each species, sample newsletter articles, press releases, and letters-to-the-editor for your state available with a click on our  Protect the Arctic Refuge interactive map.
Help protect birds from all the flyways that nest in the Arctic Refuge!

Also a reminder, if you are participating in the Great American Arctic Birding Challenge, you must submit your completed checklist by email or fax before midnight (Alaska time!) or have it postmarked by June 1, 2016. 
Who will be the next Audubon Alaska Bird of the Year?
Election season is upon us, and it's time to talk about primaries...the feathered kind. This weekend will be your chance to elect Audubon Alaska's new Bird of the Year! Visit our Facebook page and like your favorite candidate. The election runs 12:00am Saturday through 11:59pm Sunday (Alaska time). Our theme this year focuses on boreal birds, who inhabit the spruce and birch forests of Alaska's Interior. Riddled with wetlands and prone to forest fires that rejuvenate the landscape, the boreal forest is a rich habitat that supports many songbirds and waterfowl.
Our candidates are the bodacious Boreal Chickadee, the amazing American Three-toed Woodpecker, and the peerless Pacific Loon. Who will you choose?
Join our challenge! With two teams done and one to go, there's still time to support your favorite for the 2016 Birdathon. Birdathon is a fun way to raise money for protecting Alaska's incredible birds by counting them-as many species as possible in a 24-hour period during the month of May. You can participate by supporting a Birdathon team with a pledge amount per species (e.g., $0.50, $1, $5), or flat donation.
Rusty Blackbird at the hot springs by Beth Peluso
The earliest eBird record during the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz time period of April 9-May 31 was April 10 in Ketchikan, followed by a sighting April 11 in Denali National Park. (A handful of Rusty Blackbirds overwinter in Alaska, which is why we don't include sightings before April 9.) In fact, we saw a male singing during a bird walk at our board meeting at Chena Hot Springs!
The Rusty Blackbird Blitz runs until May 31 in Alaska, so please keep submitting your bird checklists (even if you didn't find a Rusty) on eBird. If you submit on a computer, select "Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz" under the "other" category of survey type. If you use the mobile app, type Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz in the notes at the end of your submission. Many thanks to everyone who has submitted sightings so far!
Photo by Susanne Miller, US Fish Wildlife Service
Audubon Alaska is in the midst of creating our Ecological Atlas of the Bering, Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Each issue of the eNews will feature a different topic or species covered within the Atlas.
One of the most recognizable species on the planet, the polar bear is among the largest of the eight bear species worldwide (along with its closest cousin, the American brown bear, aka "grizzly"). Polar bears rely heavily on sea ice for traveling, breeding, denning, and hunting their main prey, ringed seals. Polar bears have huge paws for their body size, up to twelve inches across, which act as snowshoes when walking on snow and ice. The pads of their feet also have small bumps that create traction on ice, helped by strong claws. Partial webbing on their front paws makes them skilled swimmers in the frigid Arctic Ocean. Their dense fur keeps them warm in the cold water. While polar bear fur appears white, the hairs are actually hollow and translucent, allowing sunlight to penetrate to the bear's black skin, which absorbs the scarce warmth.

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Previous Quiz Bird
The previous quiz bird was a juvenile Sandhill Crane.
This Month's Quiz Bird
Nearly 800 of this WatchList Red List species nest in the Imuruk Basin Important Bird Area on the Seward Peninsula in western Alaska. There are 5 species of this famliy in Alaska, and the quiz bird is the smallest. 
JeromeAudubon Alaska welcomes new board member Jerome McCluskey back to our neck of the woods. He visited with us previously when his wife Alexis Maybank served on the Audubon Alaska board (she is now on the National Audubon board). Jerome is a partner in the New York office of the law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy. He serves on a number of boards for a variety of organizations, including the Board of Trustees of the Boys Club of New York and the Stanford Law School Board of Visitors. Jerome was selected as a David Rockefeller Fellow for the Class of 2015-2016 by the Partnership for New York City-each Fellow must hold a key leadership position at a New York City-based company, have a demonstrated interest in civic activities, and be nominated by their company's CEO. Jerome is also a former term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He and Alexis currently live in New York.

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EvieAudubon Alaska welcomes new board member Evie Witten. Evie has enjoyed several decades in conservation science and leadership in Alaska and Canada, most recently serving as Deputy Director for Canada for The Nature Conservancy, and previously as Director of World Wildlife Fund's Alaska Field Office and as a founding member and first Executive Director of Great Land Trust. Her conservation experience and interests run strongly to establishing and growing innovative and collaborative approaches to resource conflicts, and on developing community-based conservation practices that address landscapes as a social, economic, and environmental whole. Evie is currently owner of Evie's Brinery, a start-up business naturally fermenting Alaska Grown vegetables into sauerkrauts and kimchis. She lives in Anchorage where she enjoys all sorts of skiing and boating with her husband, Rand Hagenstein, and their 7-year-old daughter Neve.

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PolarBears Polar bears don't hibernate like other bears. In fact, only pregnant females dig dens. The females stay holed up in their dens for many months through the coldest part of the winter, living off stored body fat until emerging in early spring with their new cubs.
Unfortunately, many of the world's sixteen subpopulations of polar bears are struggling to survive in the face of a warming Arctic and the melting of their sea ice habitat. Because of this, they are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, and they are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Truly a remarkable species that deserves conservation attention!

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For almost 40 years Audubon Alaska has worked to conserve Alaska's natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, wildlife, and the habitat crucial to them. Audubon Alaska is financially independent, raising all our own funding. This means your support is critical to protecting the birds and wildlife you care about.Thank you for supporting Audubon Alaska!

Happy Birding!

Beth Peluso, Communications Manager
Audubon Alaska

Audubon Alaska
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